• Fight! Fight!

    In me-based news, I'll be debating The New Republic 's Adam Kushner this week on withdrawal from Iraq. He's agin' it, I'm for. The fight is over at Campus Progress, so check there for updates.
  • The Horrors of Sarbanes-Oxley

    It's taken me awhile to write this post because, well, the topic is just so sad. But I'm going to try: Bashing Sarbanes-Oxley, the law Congress passed to rein in corporate-accounting abuses, is popular locker-room banter among executives. But it has gotten out of hand. On Sunday, Georgia-Pacific Chief Executive A.D. "Pete" Correll suggested avoiding the law was a reason to sell his company to privately held Koch Industries. "You get used to spending your shareholders money" on the law's provisions, he told reporters. "But that doesn't make it right." That terrible old Sarbanes-Oxley, "Pete" doesn't even enjoy his job anymore! Everyday, he trudges to work, sure that proving his company isn't a complex money-laundering scheme is a betrayal of those stockholders who'd lose everything if it was. The burden has grown so great that he's had to surround his name with quotation marks! This corporate McCarthysim has simply gone too far. A recent study by Foley & Lardner LLP found that all...
  • To Defeat James Dobson, They Must Become HIm

    If Paul Bloom (and the sociologists he quotes) is right on this , the battle lines in American politics are very strangely drawn: the religious divide between Americans and Europeans may be smaller than we think. The sociologists Rodney Stark, of Baylor University, and Roger Finke, of Pennsylvania State University, write that the big difference has to do with church attendance, which really is much lower in Europe. (Building on the work of the Chicago-based sociologist and priest Andrew Greeley, they argue that this is because the United States has a rigorously free religious market, in which churches actively vie for parishioners and constantly improve their product, whereas European churches are often under state control and, like many government monopolies, have become inefficient.) So if Bill O'Reilly, James Dobson, and friends get their way and bust through the wall (which is really more of a hedge these days) separating church and state, the result will be an ossified, dumb...
  • Bad News for Bush

    It's gotten no mention today, but the newly-released USA Today poll marks the first time in the poll's history -- and maybe in any poll's history -- that a plurality of Americans have disapproved of the way Bush is handling terrorism. As I've argued in the past, numbers on terrorism, since the issue is necessarily out of sight, are a direct reflection of certain characteristics voters either do or do not perceive in the president. Strength, decisiveness, competence -- all they can do is evaluate how personally able he appears. And it seems that perceptions on that front are changing, even in Bush's perennial bastions of personal strength. If he can't rely on terrorism and toughness, he can't rely on anything at all.
  • Orphan Drugs

    THe WSJ has an excellent expose today (I really do encourage you to read the whole thing -- this is what newspaper journalism should be) on "orphan" drugs, treatments for rare and specialized conditions that, in order to spur their development, are given absolute monopoly status once on the market. Here's how it works and what happens: Henry Blair had been making an experimental enzyme under government contracts while he was a researcher at Tufts University School of Medicine. The enzyme was developed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health as a treatment for Gaucher disease, a rare, sometimes fatal, condition that causes certain organs to swell and bones to deteriorate. In 1981, when Mr. Blair co-founded Genzyme, the government transferred the contract to make the enzyme to his new company. At first, the experimental treatment didn't seem to have much commercial potential because of the small market. Before the Orphan Drug Act, investors' "eyes would roll back in their...
  • Important Stuff

    The Wall Street Journal has a crucial poll today: do you think modern video games are as fun as those from 20 years ago? I'm going to assume they don't literally mean 20 years, and are instead asking about the NES, SNES, and Genesis vs. the Playstation, N64, and X-BOx 360. 2d vs. 3d. And I'll have to say that no, I don't think modern games hold a candle to the glory days of the SNES. How do you folks feel?
  • When Trendspotting Goes Bad

    In The New Republic , Alexandra Starr has found a worrisome trend taking place in Japan, a monstrous activity formerly seen only in particularly disturbed fiction: I personally suspected something was amiss after Cruise's pitch-perfect performance as a sexist self-help guru in the 1999 movie Magnolia . Cruise's character conducts seminars instructing men in the niceties of manipulating women; he begins his lecture with, "Respect the cock." The entire film dabbles in the absurd, but, when I was in Japan last winter, I discovered the concept of a seduction school isn't pure fiction. She didn't have to go all the way to Japan. Resting at #23 on the New York Times bestseller list is Neil Strauss's The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-Up Artists . The book is all about, you guessed it, guys who teach seminars full of men how to effectively pick up and seduce women, among them Ross Jeffries, a sort of seduction-oriented hypnotist who Tom Cruise's character was based on. And...
  • Proof?

    Now there's a way to look at it. Maybe the first testable hypothesis of Intelligent Design is whether or not God lays the smack down on the good citizens of Dover.
  • It's About That Time...

    Well this is positive news: After marathon all-night negotiations, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced a comprehensive agreement between the Israeli and the Palestinian governments Tuesday designed to ease the Gaza Strip's isolation by allowing more reliable access for its goods and people to Israel and the outside world. The deal sets out the terms of operation for Gaza border crossings used to move cargo and people, resolving a deadlock that has frustrated a team of international negotiators for weeks. It also establishes a system of bus convoys to shuttle Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank, the two territorial components of what is envisioned as a future Palestinian state. The agreement allows the Palestinians to begin work on Gaza's seaport, and assures donors that Israel will not interfere with its operation. It leaves unclear when the port would open and under what guidelines, but work to get it up and running will take at least three years, Palestinian...
  • Kate 2.0

    Big news today. Kate Steadman has ditched blogger and gone pro. She's now a proud Typepad user with a clean template, and you should all go read, support, and bookmark her. As background, Kate deserves full credit (or total blame) for getting me into health policy, and no small portion of what appears on the topic here found its start in conversations with her. Now you can go read at the source. Her new blog is focused on the subject, and will, like her old blog, get deeper into the topic than I generally do here. You kids are going to learn so much! So go read . One day, when you're older, smarter, and finally able to understand Medicare Part D, you're going to thank me for bugging you to bookmark (or, if you're techier, syndicate) her. Off you go.